Rheumatoid Arthritis and depression and breaking the rules sometimes


anxietyOk, so depression and pain and chronic conditions. I’ve done this to death, right? No, wrong. I haven’t spoken much about it at all.  I usually I just ride it out, because I don’t usually stay down for long.  I don’t let myself.

Right now I don’t really want to get up.  I know what I have to do. It’s a process.  I have done it before.  It works for me.

I just don’t want to do it.  I’m tired of being strong. I’m tired of doing it all.  I’m just tired.

I’m doing the bare essentials –taking care of my kids.  I’m not really taking care of myself.  I can’t eat much. I have no appetite and nothing appeals. I am hungry, but as soon as the food is in front of me, I just feel nauseous.  I can, however, drink.  And take my pain killers.  And let the lines blur.

I know I shouldn’t be doing this. I should pick myself up. I should go to the gym. I should go get some fresh food and cook some healthy meals.  I should pour the rest of the red wine away, and not buy any more.  I should only take oxycodone when I absolutely need it, not because I just don’t want to deal with the pain today and I want to be dumbed down. I should make some plans with friends and get out of the house, even if I don’t want to go.  I should get out of my track pants.  I should decide on a direction and find the course that will get me there.  And then I should enrol. I should keep my brain engaged and focussed and forward thinking.  No looking back.

This is how I get back on my feet. I don’t do all these things at once. I do one each day.  Maybe even two.  And before long I am OK.  I’m back on the treadmill, literally and figuratively.  I tell myself I’m strong and I pat myself on the back and give myself heaps of credit, because few people know how hard all of this stuff is for me, so therefore no one else is going to do it.  But I know, and I tell myself I am awesome. And that’s enough for me. Throughout this process the physical pain still remains.  But as I’ve written before, you can be in pain and be happy.

But I’m tired.  I just don’t want to do the work.  I want to stay down here a while.  I want someone else to do it for me.

My depressive bouts don’t happen that often.  I’m generally a ridiculous optimist.  But sometimes enough problems hit at once, and I do fall into periods of depression.  But it’s not clinical depression.

Clinical depression, as it has been explained to me, is a medical condition all of its own.  It has no definable cause.  It is a chemical imbalance in the brain that renders the person unable to feel joy and happiness.  Studies have linked these feelings to low serotonin levels in the brain, and therefore serotonin reuptake inhibitors can increase serotonin levels and improve mood.  Other medications work on dopamine receptors. I’m far from an expert, but I have taken a few anti-depressants of various classes.  I didn’t believe I was depressed, but sometimes doctors bully you into trying their drugs.  They say things like ‘If you don’t WANT to get well…’ and make it clear that if you won’t try the medication, don’t bother complaining to them.  You start to question yourself…because if you are depressed, you might not know it, right?  So I have tried several. They don’t work for me.

I think this is because there is another type of depression.  A type of depression where there are clear causes for depression.  When any thinking, feeling person looks at the circumstances, and they can understand why you might be depressed. Why you might be feeling beaten.  Why you might be down.  It’s possible to see a clear cause and effect.

Maybe this isn’t really depression. Maybe it’s unhappiness.  But knowing and understanding the reasons for your unhappiness is one thing.  Changing them is quite another.

My situation looks bleak.  43. Painful, progressive disease.  No employment prospects.  No financial future.  Two kids to care for, one of whom has special needs.  Alone.

I can’t change any of that. Ok, maybe I could change the ‘alone’ part.   I am tired of being alone.  I miss having someone to love. Someone to share things with.  The important things and the trivial things.  But it’s hard to meet people from the couch. And you can’t decide to love someone.  And you can’t decide to stop to loving someone. It’s out of your control.  And loving someone would ultimately mean depending on them.  Uh-uh. No.

So normally at this point I go into damage control.  I follow my rules and I get off my butt and start putting myself back together.

I am super woman. I get back up and do it fast before the depression takes hold. I do all the right things. I tackle it like I tackle everything. Head on. And for me, it works.

But I am viewing it differently this time. I don’t need to be superwoman. My body, or my mind, or both, are telling me to rest.  And for once, I am going to listen.  I am giving myself time.  I am taking it easy on myself.  I don’t need medication to alter my mood, or suppress my feelings. I am not going to override my feelings and tell myself I shouldn’t care.  My feelings are valid.  I’m allowed to be angry. I’m allowed to be sad. It’s understandable that I am tired, and lonely. I thought it was stronger to forgive, not dwell, and move on.  This time I don’t care about what the ‘strong’ thing is.  I don’t need to be strong all the time.  I don’t have to forgive people who have wronged me. I don’t have to work at getting along with them.  I don’t have to spend time with anyone if I don’t want to.  There are a few people who can make me smile just by walking in the room.  Those are the only people I want to be around right now.

I have potentially brilliant or potentially devastating news due next week.  It’s most likely going to be the latter.  I’m not going to paint my smile on and pretend all is well, as I usually do. I’m going to lay low until I feel better.

And I will feel better.  That’s the advantage of being 43 and having been through some crappy experiences. I know exactly who I am.  I know what helps and I know what hurts.  And I know that I will be happy again.  When I am ready.


  1. And not one minute sooner, right? And that’s ok. I totally get it. Take a break, you deserve it…but not too long, or before you know it, you will be going through a tunnel where you can’t turn around and it gets longer and longer w/the light at the end getting dimmer and dimmer. That’s the thing about depression, sometimes it has you in its grip before you know it. I hope you at least take care of yourself a little…you deserve that too. Hang in there. (and good luck on that news).



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